Get to Know: Pediatric Neurosurgeon Kelly Mahaney, MD, MS

Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Specialty:
Pediatric epilepsy, tumors, spinal conditions, congenital abnormalities and hydrocephalus
Fellowship: Pediatric Neurosurgery,The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
Fellowship: Pediatric Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurologic Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix
Residency: Neurosurgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City
Medical Degree: Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis

The opportunity to work alongside some of the leading neurosurgeons in the country is not something you pass up, says neurosurgeon Kelly Mahaney, MD. “For years, UVA has had a strong tradition of offering the best neurosurgery training in the country,” she says. “Being a university hospital, we also have the latest facilities, technology and standards of care, as well as experts in every field, which allows us to provide the very best for our patients. These are the reasons why I wanted to come here.”

Mahaney joined the UVA Neurosurgery team in July after completing a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at the Barrow Neurologic Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Phoenix. We spoke to her about the rewards of pediatric neurosurgery, her goals for clinical practice and more in the FAQ below.

Charlottesville is quite a change from Phoenix. How do you like it?
I love it. My husband actually started at UVA last August in the Otolaryngology Department, so I have been coming back and forth to Charlottesville for a while now. But it is nice to finally be settled and I’m getting used to the area.

Why did you choose to go into the field of pediatric neurosurgery?
When I started residency in neurosurgery, I didn’t plan to focus on pediatrics, but I was exposed to the field during my residency and the more I worked with kids the more I wanted to do it. It may sound cliché but I do love children. Kids are resilient; they have remarkable courage and they smile and laugh when you least expect it. They also recover neurologically in ways that adults don’t. Treating adults with neurological problems can be rewarding but their problems are often those that have accumulated over the course of their lives. With kids you cannot get frustrated about their high blood pressure or cholesterol. They have what they were given. It is challenging but you can make a real difference in their lives. That is the most rewarding part of my clinical practice.

What will be your clinical focus at UVA?
I am very excited to be working with the pediatric neurology team to build a pediatric epilepsy surgery program at UVA. I’m also hoping to do a little bit of everything. Pediatric neurosurgery is a diverse field, so I’ll be treating tumors, spinal conditions, congenital abnormalities and hydrocephalus. I’m excited to be partnering with John Jane Jr., MD; we’ll be working as a team, and I could not have asked for a better senior partner.

Can you describe the surgical options available for kids with epilepsy?
When children develop epilepsy that becomes medically refractory, sometimes we can offer a surgical procedure to treat the epilepsy. If we are able to successfully localize a seizure focus — the precise location in the brain from which the seizures arise — we can often resect that area to treat the patient’s seizures. Sometimes a tumor or an area of cortical dysplasia [a congenital abnormality in which neurons in an area of the brain failed to migrate properly] is responsible for seizures and resection can effectively treat the seizures. Other procedures we offer include temporal lobectomy, corpus callosotomy, multiple subpial transections, hemispherectomy and vagal nerve stimulation.

Will you be conducting research as well?
Yes. My interests are in clinical research – prospective clinical studies and clinical trials. During my training, I completed a Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation. I hope to bring that expertise to my clinical practice and work on clinical investigations that will be relevant to my patient practice.

How will you collaborate with referring physicians?
I hope referring physicians see me as a resource and feel free to call me to ask questions or refer patients who may be beyond their area of expertise. I strive for an open collaborative relationship, whether they are primary care providers, neurologists or neurosurgeons. My goal is to be a resource to help them provide the very best care to their patients.

 

Kelly Mahaney, MD, will be visiting referring providers over the coming months. Please contact our Referral Services department to schedule an appointment if you would like to learn more about her practice and experience.